Sac State unites for the third annual Out of the Darkness walk

State Hornet Staff

In an effort to save lives and silence the stigma of suicide, the Sacramento State community walked around campus Thursday for the third annual Out of the Darkness Walk.


“It was great to see so many people come out because it shows that the suicide dialogue among college students is changing,” said Walk Coordinator and Case Manager with Counseling and Psychological Services Katie Hodgson.


The walk was hosted by Sac State’s Student Health Department, Active Minds and Sacramento’s American Foundation for Suicide Prevention chapter with the purpose of raising awareness on college student suicides and providing students with resources and support.


Before the event, organizations, students and community members were asked to give donations to the foundation through its website or during the event.


Hodgson said by the end of the walk a total of $6,465 was collected, but the chapter is still expecting more donations.


Half of the donations will go towards the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s national chapter and the other half will stay in Sacramento’s chapter.


Hogdson said last year Sacramento’s chapter donated a portion of the money raised to Sac State suicide prevention programs such as Counseling and Psychological Services, Assisted Suicide Intervention Skills training and SafeTALK, which trains students to identify people with thoughts of suicide.


Northern California Area Director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Ryan Ayers said this year they will be using a portion of the money to help improve campuses suicide prevention programs.


“One of the programs we will be offering to Sac State is the Interactive Screening program,” Ayers said.


He said the Interactive Screening program would allow students to speak with counselors online, which can encourage students to talk about depression or suicidal thoughts they are having more openly.


“Overall the walk went really well,” Ayers said. “The students here are great. They are full of enthusiasm and  incredibly well organized.”


Psychology major Katie Williams participated in the walk as a member of Active Minds and said she knows the importance of the walk and having suicide prevention programs on campus because she was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at the age of ten.


“I spent many years feeling depressed to the point that I didn’t think life was worth living, until my sophomore year of college,” Williams said. “I was hospitalized several times and decided to go to Counseling and Psychological Services on campus. My counselor told me about an internship with Active Minds and that experience ended up changing my entire life and career decision.”


Williams said the walk brings light to a prevalent issue on campuses and it serves as a prevention method by showing students who are struggling with suicidal thoughts that they are not alone.


According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website, suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students and undiagnosed untreated adolescent depression is the third-leading killer for youth aged 15 to 24.


“So many people say ‘snap out of it’ or ‘just be happy,’ but it’s not like that because depression consumes you,” Williams said. “What better way to fight against this issue than by having different people like survivors of suicide, families, friends, Greeks and organizations all come together one night to walk in the name of ending stigma.”


Psychology major Diane Rivas participated in the Out of the Darkness walk along with her sorority, Sigma Omega Nu, to outreach to the Sac State Greek community.


“Many students may not want to reach out or ask for help about this issue,” Rivas said. “As a sorority, we can bring awareness to our fellow Greeks and show them it’s ok to talk about suicide and depression.”